The Detailed DIY Guide to Giving your Brick Wall a Modern Feel

The Detailed DIY Guide to Giving your Brick Wall a Modern Feel

I trust we all love colors. God knows I do...

...and I bet you do too.

Our days are Holi all seasons, then the kind that esteems not humankind but all things bright and beautiful.

But lately, I've been staring at an old bare stone wall and the only response I get is at least one world war and a cold war retouch overdue.

So I'm thinking its time to patch up a few cracks and deliver a fresh coat of paint. Something from this century, and yeap you right, a modern touch.

Brick walls are sightly coz they splash impressive rustic textures to surfaces, but not at all when weathered.

While painting brick masonry may seem quite straightforward your success or failure will depend on how well you implement your skill.

Let's learn together how to apply a fresh coat of paint and revitalize our stone or brick walls.


Adorn a pair of gloves and a face mask let's put some 22's up in this wall.

Know Your Wall


Masonry is often perceived as impenetrable, but it is actually by nature porous, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the specific material and its treatment.

Its easy to assume (judging by the hard looking exteriors of stone and brick) that masonry is not porous. But in fact, these are some considerably absorbent building materials.

Architects exploit this inherent porosity of masonry be it brick, stone or concrete by designing walls that allow light, air, and water to penetrate

Stone and bricks vary in porosity and absorption according to the manufacturing process, density and aggregate used. Even the densest type of bricks are generally porous enough to provide adhesion for paint coating

Most porous brick require the first application of primer and paint to be thinned before application. Good paintwork for brick in exposed areas require to be primed with two layers of waterproof coating.


Efflorescence is a whiteish crystalline deposit appearing on stone or brick walls. Its caused by salt and mineral deposits integrated into stones leaching to the facade when dissolved by moisture inside the stone structure.

Adhension in waterbased paints can be impaired by efflorescence which sips though uninterrupted. It is best practice not to apply any paint even if vapor permeable until the efflorescence has ceased and deposits have been treated and removed.

How to Treat Efflorescence

  1. Remove efflorescence deposits using a stiff brush
  2. Pour, spray or brush salt removing solution to treat the wall. However, always soak the surface with water before using chemicals in order to keep the cleaner from penetrating into the stone and further opening pores that encourage efflorescence.
  3. Leave the salt remover to sit on the wall a while, depending on the deposits extent.
  4. After 5-10 Mins wash away with clean water. You may need to repeat the process up until you get desirable results.


When bricks are produced they may contain iron oxide in the raw materials. When the water-based paint is applied this can bleed through and cause surface rust staining.

In instances where bricks and stones rust use stain-blocking primer to prevent the stains from sipping to the surface.


Cement or lime used in stone and brickworks is highly alkaline, which softens and liquifies solvent-based paints. Use an alkaline resistant primer before applying the paint coat.

Water based paints run a lesser risk, but to substantially bring up the lifespanof the paint job use an alkali resistant water-based system.

Lets Get Moving

What to Have

  • A wall (I mean its wall makeover, right??)
  • Scraper
  • Variety of cleaning brushes
  • Brush cleaner
  • Paint brush
  • Roller
  • Ladder
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tape
  • Bucket
  • Concrete patch
  • Roller covers
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Water
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Primer
  • Paint

Clean the wall

Walls needs a wash before priming. The wash should be specific to the type of debris on the wall

Removing Old Paint

This process is necessary for previously painted walls

  1. Use a scraper to remove old paint flaking from the wall.
  2. Scrab with a wire brush then a stiff nylon brush for minute fracking that remains after scrapping.
  3. Mix a bucket of water with 1/2 a cup of Trisodium phosphate and stir to make a solution.
  4. Using a stiff brush spread the solution evenly on the wall. Make detailed spreads on areas with remaining paint spots.
  5. Let the TPS solution cure for 10-20 Mins, then scrub the wall with a scrub brush until all the paint is expelled.
  6. If there are still paint stains on the brick, moisten a rag with paint remover and soak the paint spots with it. Then use a back-and-forth motion with a scrub brush to remove the stains.
  7. Rinse the wall with clean water making sure all substrate is removed. Preferably scrub with household detergent ensuring no residue that can bleed through the paint remains

Use a pressure washer if there is a layer of dirt on the surface of the house, or if there are any areas caked with mud. Utilize a pressure washer at 1500 PSI.

Ware safety goggles, gloves and face mask when making the TPS solution.

It might be necessary to the wash wall surfaces with a zinc-sulfate or zinc-chlorine solution to neutralize the alkalis that may be present into the brickwork to reduce the risk paint failures.

Under no circumstances should acid cleaning solutions be used to clean brick walls, as acid reactions can lead to early paint failure

Special precautions should be taken during surface preparation of pre-1960s paint surfaces especially those bordering wood and metal as they may contain harmful lead.

Removing Mold, Algae, and Efflorescence.

Mold, algae, and efflorescence substantially reduce the paint adhesion. With most of mold and algae removed in step 1 give the wall a fungicidal treatment.

Make a 20 parts water 1 part fungicidal solution and using a backpack sprayer liberally apply to the wall and leave to work. Ensure the brickwork is completely dry before painting.

Make Necessary Repairs

Any large voids, large holes in the brickwork will need to be filled and repaired with a suitable masonry cement

Mix one 2.5kg sachet with 400ml water until it’s stiff enough to stay on your trowel when you turn it upside down.

Press into gaps and cracks in the brick face and make sure to make it stay – having cleared out any loose debris with a wire brush beforehand

When you need to repair cracked or loose joints, hold a cold chisel at a 45-degree angle to the damaged mortar joint and strike with a hammer to remove the damage.

Mix mortar with water to develop a paste-like consistency. Fill a grout bag with the mortar and squeeze grout along void joints. Allow the mortar to set for 48 to 72 hours before sealing.

Altenatively scrub off growth areas with an equal mixture of chlorine bleach and warm water. Rinse the wall thoroughly and allow it to dry completely.

Sealing and Priming


Sealer should be applied before the primer especially in areas where wall dump easily.

Use a sealer coating designed to stop moisture and will adhere well to bare stone walls. Preferably sealers with additives to combat mold and mildew.

Use a brush to spread a first coat of the sealer on the wall. Apply with some pressure to ensure the sealer gets to the wall pores.

Add second coat evenly which should make sure no moisture sips through the wall.


Penetrating concrete sealers sip into the capillaries of a porous cementitious surface, chemically react with it, to create a new chemical solid that serves as a breathable barrier below the surface.

Topical sealers form protective films that adhere to the top of the surface without any chemical reaction taking place between the coating and the surface.

Topical coatings almost always change the surface texture and appearance by imparting a gloss (high gloss, low gloss, satin finish, matte finish) or color.

Ideally sodium,potassium and Lithium Silicate penetrating sealers are used

Sodium Silicates is the most affordable but often times react with surfaces too quickly prior to full penetration into a surface.

The immediate surface reaction generally does not completely finish

This results in much of the sealer and chemical reaction taking place on the surface instead of within the capillaries of the surface.

Potassium Silicate, though more expensive overcome some of the limitations of Sodium Silicate sealers.

However, they do not sufficiently solve the limitation hence the best alternative Lithium Silicate.

Lithium Silicate is most recommended but for the purposes of such a project the more affordable options are up to task


Good quality, specialty primer is applied when the surface has dried completely. The primer will make the new coat of paint bond tightly to the substrate, which will increase the performance characteristics and durability of the paint system.

Alkali-resistant primers are the best products you can use prior to painting your stone or brick wall

Alkali-resistant primers protect wall structures from elements including intense UV radiation, high temperatures, elevated moisture levels and wind-driven rain. They also guard against efflorescence and stains caused by smoke, tannins, and ink.

For interior wall apply primer thinned into a ratio four parts primer and one part water

Using a roller apply primer evenly on the wall. Use a brush for more precision for the primer to sufficiently get to every part of the wall surface.

Apply two coats of the thinned primer and give the wall time to dry completely


Choosing the Paint

Interior and exterior brick walls should be treated differently. Exterior brick comes into contact with ground elements and porous brick paint should be used to allow the wall to breathe.

Choose quality breathable latex painting product while painting external bricks after conditioning and priming.But it is always better to consider whitewashing or staining brick walls

Keep in mind when painting brick that although it is possible to strip paint from brick later, the ability of brick to absorb paint into its porous core makes this a somewhat tricky task.

Elastomeric Paint

Elastomeric paint coating is durable it can outperform the best 100% exterior acrylic paint by 2 to 1. Elastomeric paint forms a durable, tough film that provides a waterproof coating to almost any structure. This paint is resistant to sunlight, heat, cold and wind-driven rain.

Elastomeric paints let water vapor escape from masonry while stopping destructive liquid water from entering. The masonry’s appearance is preserved, and its service life is prolonged.

These type paint exhibited perfect breathability nearly twice as breathable as traditional exterior flat acrylic latex paints. It’s up to seven times more breathable than conventional alkyd coatings and does not trap damaging moisture in the masonry.

You can get elastomeric paint from most home improvement store

Acrylic Latex Exterior Paint

Exterior Acrylic Latex deliver outstanding performance and protect against external elements. Protect against cold, frosty, hot and humid weather giving a smooth finish that is fading and peeling resistant.

Be sure to note the difference between conventional acrylic paint and Acrylic Latex paint. They are both acrylic products but are manufactured differently with varying capabilities and uses.

Give it the modern vibe

White Paint

This neutral shade is a popular choice but never loses its charm. White paint help preserve the texture of the brick while looking spectacular.

White gives out the clean sleek look associated with modern interiors even on ages-old bricks.

Look to brighten your space and make it feel spacious with this neutral coat

Grey Paint

Cool grey provides a subtle backdrop for your individual style.Being another neutral it creates warm and soft feels. The earthy aspect gives out organic quality while still creating a clean finish.

Should'nt I just Whitewash?

Well, you could choose to prime your wall and leave at that. The advantage is it won't be too much of hustle if you decide halfway through the project painting is not what you really want.

I believe whitewashing, staining or painting is entirely a matter of choice. Go with what best represent you desire.

Personally I feel like staining and painting gives out a more detailed result than whitewashing.

How to Paint your Brick

  1. Cover the area around the wall like the floor, sealing and other adjacent walls.
  2. Mix the paint according to the manufacturer's instruction.
  3. Use a roller, brush or airless sprayer to apply a smooth, uniform coating, 7 mils thick.
  4. Work from the top down making sure you brush out runs and drips. Backroll spray applications for proper adhesion and good coating performance.
  5. Let first coat dry 2-4 hours
  6. Reapply the second at 4 mils thick.
  7. Protect the wall for at least 6 hours or until coating is thoroughly dry. The coating dries completely in 48 hours.

Cleaning your Equipment after Painting

The first rule when it comes cleaning painting equipment is to do the cleaning as quickly as possible after you are done with the painting.

At this time, the paint will still be fresh on the brushes, paint trays, movable sprayers, paint mixers, paint scrapers and any other tools that you used.

Cleaning will require less effort and comparatively less expense. Paint hardens quickly and if not cleaned in good time would, for instance, cause the paint brush bristles to break off during cleaning.

The solvent that you will use for cleaning painting equipment will depend on the type of paint you used. Water paints can be cleaned off with ordinary tap water and should be quite easy to clean.Oil-based paints, on the other hand, will require an oil paint solvent such as turpentine or paint thinner.

When removing oil paint, wet a piece of cloth with the turpentine or thinner then gently wipe off the paint from the tool. In the absence of a cloth, you can use old pieces of newspaper.

Pour a small amount of detergent into a container with water and do a final clean

Now our old rugged wall should be looking glam. Always go for the alternative that inspires you most whether it's whitewashing, staining or painting your brick wall.